Romance Writing 101 with Jeffe Kennedy

Award-winning author Jeffe Kennedy offers a broad introduction to the Romance genre—and its various subgenres—in this three-week online workshop.

Your Instructor: Jeffe Kennedy, author of the Twelve Kingdoms and Uncharted Realms books

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: 16 students

Price: $275

Class Description

Romance is often criticized for being “formulaic”—but what do you really know about writing romance?

The truth is, the genre is just as exciting and inventive as any other. And here to prove it is Jeffe Kennedy, a RITA® Award winning author of fantasy romance, contemporary romance and erotic romance. In this three-week workshop she'll give a broad introduction to the romance genre, and its subgenres.

She’ll cover the basic expectations of the romance genre—including the HEA (happy ever after) and HFN (happy for now)—and discuss in detail how to employ tropes. From there, the class will move into structure, including internal and external conflict. In the third week, the discussion will expand into subgenres like Fantasy Romance or Romantic Suspense—and how to weave romantic arcs into other genres effectively.

Students will participate in exercises to practice skills and will be able to submit short scenes to the entire group for feedback. Kennedy will also provide detailed feedback to posted work. All skill levels are welcome, but this introductory class will be directed toward the romance newbie.

What This Class Covers

Week One – The Romance Promise and Knowing Your Tropes

You'll spend the first week discussing the Romance “rules,” tropes, and reader expectations.

Lesson One – HEA/HFN: The One Rule to Rule Them All

It used to be the HEA (happy ever after) meant a wedding and a sunset. These days an HFN (happy for now)—or even the potential for an HEA/HFN can work. But this is the one rule you can’t break as a writer and call it Romance. 

Lesson Two – The “Formula:” Is There Really One?

Some Romance imprints are more formulaic than others, but this Romance “Formula” has more to do with dramatic beats and character arcs, both like and unlike other genres. It also relies heavily on established tropes and you'll talk about those. This discussion will include the range of “heat levels” in Romance, which is how much sex is on the page.

Lesson Three – The Hero and Heroine, and Other Combinations

Classic romance involves a pairing—or multiples—but this character interaction of at least two strong protagonists can be a distinguishing characteristic of Romance.

Lesson Four – The Romance Canon: from Old Skool to Modern Mash-ups

It’s good to know both the long history of Romance, and how making Fabio references and cracking wise about bodice rippers reveals you as decades out of date. You'll look at the foundations of the Romance genre, how it’s changed, and what fundamental expectations remain the same.

Week Two – Structuring a Romance: Internal and External Conflict

Romance as a genre can often be distinguished by the pronounced arc of internal change that can accompany the external plot arc—or entirely supplant it in some cases. Romance is about emotional exploration and change. Or “all about the feels,” as some readers put it.

Lesson Five – External Conflict

External conflict is whatever is occurring outside of the characters’ interior world. This is what can be the entire plot in other genres. You'll make sure we’re clear on this before moving on to internal conflict.  

Lesson Six – Internal Conflict

While many genres include some element of internal conflict—what is holding the character back psychologically or emotionally (or both)—Romance places a heavy emphasis on this. You'll discuss how to develop internal conflict and how it plays critically into the Romance arc.

Lesson Seven – Structuring a Romance

More than “Boy meets girl; Boy loses girl; Boy gets girl back.” You'll talk dramatic beats and how internal and external conflicts should interweave and be resolved.

Lesson Eight – Writing Emotions

You can’t write Romance effectively without getting deep into “the feels.” You'll explore some tips and techniques for evoking emotion.

Week Three – Romance Subgenres: Mixing It Up

Romance is such a hugely successful genre because it is so very huge. You'll spend this final week of the course discussing various subgenres and the particular expectations for each.

Lesson Nine – Subgenre Roundup

From the large categories, like Contemporary Romance, to the niche subgenres, like Amish Romance, you'll review the wild and wonderful variety of Romance subgenres.

Lesson Ten – Subgenre Specifics

What expectations do the various subgenres encompass? You'll look at some specifics, especially those that fit active students’ interests.

Lesson Eleven – Romantic Elements: How Much is Enough?

Yes, you can apply everything you’ve learned from this class to weaving romantic elements into other genres. You'll discuss how to do this effectively—and very, very carefully.

Lesson Twelve – Review, etc.

You'll take a few days at the end of the course to catch up on exercises, answer questions, and explore any topics that came up along the way.


Throughout the three weeks, you’ll get writing assignments to use scenes from your own works-in-progress to test out your new skills, to be critiqued by Jeffe and your classmates.

Goals Of This Class

  • Learn what defines Romance and the genre expectations.
  • Learn how to structure a Romance and how to write emotions.
  • Learn how to use internal and external conflict to create a powerful romantic arc.
  • Understand the range of Romance subgenres and how to incorporate romantic elements into other genres.
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